SHAFAQNA Â -Â AS the Ramadan fast enters the second week, Pope Francis has sent his goodwill message to Nigerian Muslims, urging them to use the fasting period to enrich themselves spiritually, physically and morally.
In his prayer, the Catholic pontiff said: â€œI am pleased to send you, in the name of all Catholics around the world, best wishes for a peaceful and joyful celebration of â€˜Id el-Fitr. May your fasting, prayer, almsgiving, help to the poor, visits to family members and to friends enrich your lives.â€
In a statement signed by the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican, Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran and Secretary, Father Miguel Ãngel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I., the Pope noted: â€œFor some of you and also for others from other religious communities, the joy of the period is shadowed by the memory of the dear ones, who lost their life or goods or suffered physically, mentally and even spiritually because of violence.
â€œEthnic and religious communities in a number of countries went through various and enormous unjust sufferings: killing of some of their members, destruction of their religious and cultural heritages, forced emigration from their homes and cities, molestation and raping of their women, enslavement of some of their members, trafficking of persons, commerce of organs and even selling of cadavers.
â€œWe are all aware of the gravity of these crimes. However, what makes them even more heinous is the attempt at justifying them in the name of religion. It is a clear manifestation of instrumentalising religion for gaining power and richness.
Needless to say that those, who have the responsibility of security and public order have also the duty to protect their people and their properties from the blind violence of terrorists.
Besides, there is also the responsibility of those, who have the task of education: families, schools, curricula, religious discourse, and media. Violence and terrorism are first conceived in the mind of the deviated persons, thereafter, perpetrated on the ground.
â€œAll those that are involved in the education of the youth and in the various educational spaces should teach the sacred character of life and the derived dignity of every person, regardless of his or her ethnicity, religion, culture, social position and political choice.
There is no life that is more precious than another one because it belongs to a specific race or religion. Therefore, no one can kill. No one can kill in the name of God; this would be a double crime against God and the very person.
There cannot be any ambiguity in education. The future of a person, community and of the whole humanity cannot be built on such ambiguity or apparent truth. â€œChristians and Muslims, according to their respective religious traditions, look at God and relate with Him as being the Truth. Our life and behaviour as believers should reflect such conviction,â€ he said.